Some tools to drool over.  Image (c) 1998 Jock Dempsey.  Click for enlargement. WELCOME to the anvilfire!
Virtual Hammer-In!

This page is open to ALL for the purpose of advancing blacksmithing.
Please read the RULES before posting a message.
NOTE: This IS NOT the Guru page!

WHY THREE FORUMS? Well, this is YOUR blacksmithing forum to use for whatever you wish within the rules stated above. It is different than the Slack-Tub Pub because the messages are permanently posted and archived.
This page is NOT a chat - it is a "message board"

Our chat, the (Slack-Tub Pub), is immediate but the record of it is temporary. DO NOT post permanent messages there. We refresh the "log" every 24 hours now and your message will be lost.

The Guru's Den is where I and several others try to answer ALL your blacksmithing and metalworking questions to us.

Please note that this forum uses an e-mail encryption system that prevents spam harvesters from collecting your e-mail address.

J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT


My demonstration schedule is listed on my home page. Look at the left side menu for it.

I'd be more than happy to see any of the folks who either read or post here. Heck, I might even hand you a hammer and say "Make something!" (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 03/31/02 19:01:55 GMT

Last week's invitation from Paw-Paw to come see his demo's was a weak attempt at asking for HELP! He will be in Union City, TN April 26 - 27. After the LONNNG trip out he will need a helper. I would do it, but the show won't pay for the extra travel costs. However, I WILL be at the Museum of Appalachia October 9 - 13 with Paw-Paw.

Its a great chance to use a Great Double Chambered Bellows and a rather nifty forging setup, if I DO say so myself ;) See Paw Paw's page and our 21st Century page article titled "Portable Forge".

If you've never done a public demo don't worry it! There is no reason to be nervous. The public in general knows little or nothing about blacksmithing. Rarely is a difficult question asked. You easily become "the expert". If you are not up to forging in public there is much working of the bellows and striking to do. . .

Drop him a line if you live near where he is going to demonstrating OR can get there.

Paw-Paw's Schedule

- guru - Sunday, 04/01/02 17:06:35 GMT

Newcomer: I always wanted to become a blacksmith.Please teach me!!!!!!!!!!!!
- John Smith - Wednesday, 04/03/02 21:15:09 GMT

I'd suggest you go the the guru's page of this site. On the top of the page, click on the article "Getting Started".
Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 04/04/02 12:50:10 GMT

Newcomer: Great stop by the next MOB meeting and well get you started!

- Thomas Powers - Thursday, 04/04/02 15:05:56 GMT

Lathe 4-sale: 20's vintage Lodge and Shiply lathe 16x32.Needs a good home.Dan NW.WIS. slagcity at
- Dirty Dan - Friday, 04/05/02 21:46:12 GMT

Newbe: Looking for tools and a teacher Ohio.
Tom Schray - Tuesday, 04/09/02 20:58:24 GMT

Ohio: I replied to Tom with MOB and SOFA info; any one in the COB or Western Reserve groups handy?
- Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 04/09/02 21:29:38 GMT

Motivations: Thomas Powers, Wrong is such a harsh word. Grin. But to be truthful, I would love to be wrong about the primary motivation of the founding fathers. I would love for them to have been primarily concerned about freedoms and rights for the people.

I should probably have clarified that I donít ďknowĒ what the motivation of the founding fathers was. I donít KNOW for a fact that their primary motivation was money(and power). I suspect it was, given the history of human nature and businessmen. Just as you do not KNOW what Thomas Jefferson really was like. You and I were not there. If you are basing your comments on his letters, let me ask you.... when you write something, do you write the bad things about your motivations or actions? All of us have some bad motivations. Unless you are perfect. I doubt that anyone writes about all of the bad or unsavory stuff they do or think. So Iím not going to change my opinion based on Jeffersonís letters.

Was Jefferson a businessman? Did he make more money when the colonies became separate from England? Did he pay his workers at a level where they made around a third or more of what he did after real business expenses? Did he have slaves? Did he father children out of marriage? Iím not here to rip Thomas Jefferson apart. But it appears he was not all golden. I didnít expect he was. Nor any of the founding fathers. Nor you. Certainly not me.

Again, it was general statement of opinion for people to consider. Call me a cynic if you like, but please donít call me wrong unless there are facts to support it. Personal letters donít cut it for me. Nor do ďhistorical biographiesĒ. The motivation behind most publication is to see your thoughts and words in print. And....... to make money. Get fame. Be popular and talked about. Etc. Iíve not seen anything that does not get slanted by the author. Again, human nature.

Aaaannd, I never meant to imply, nor did I say, that they had no concern for human rights, etc. I did say they did write some in. What I mean is that I think their primary motivation was to have more money and power. Just like most politicians through the history of human kind.

If I was going to be ultra cynical, I would say that the founding fathers, as most politicians or people who want to lead others or control them, come up with things like rights and freedoms (and economic prosperity) to get the people to side with them so that they can get into power. The founding fathers did seem to do very well with delivering what they promised though.

Iím grateful to the founding fathers. I love the original constitution. We have a book at home and I read it probably once a year. Clear, concise, correct to my thinking, no legalese. Itís when it started to get tampered with that I donít like it. Some of the later amendments get pretty self serving in my opinion.

I would cringe at the thought that we should rewrite the constitution every generation. Weíd certainly screw it up.

I love this country. We have it much better than the rest of the world that I have seen. Iíve said as much before. I just donít look at it with blinders on. And Iím not saying you are either. Our system is being abused by our very representatives. The will of the people is not being served. And Iím not just saying the will of Tony is not being served. I DO bow to the majority. I just wish the majority would make itself heard. It is usually the extremists who drive things.

Donít take this as a rebuke. I appreciate your opinion and the discussion. Just like I appreciate almost all of your posts. I am not saying you are wrong. I just suspect that the primary concern of the founding fathers was more personally beneficial. And again, Iíd like to see facts that prove me wrong.

John Lowther, I agree. Again, we are led like lemmings. Or at least the majority is. I learned long ago to always look for the motivations of the people I deal with or hear about.

The major point I was trying to make was that people need to get off their butt and make their desires and expectations known to the representatives. And expect them to honor them or prove that the majority wants otherwise.
Tony - Wednesday, 04/10/02 20:32:43 GMT

Just found out Ward Grossnam (he demoed at the abana conf at flagstaff ) lost his 8 year old Son right after easter
verry sad news
  Bill Epps - Thursday, 04/11/02 05:04:46 GMT

RE motivations: the founding fathers (jefferson included) were all bankruped by the end of the war most if not all of them NEVER worked there way clear of. that isn't to say that they didn't beleave that thay would make money from the war. an intresting point on this is that one of the reasons that they never did was that they refused to put any tax's the contry so they ate the deits, our only income (by our I meen the USA) was from tarifs on products from outside of the USA, fines(sales tax was and still is a state tax). untill we enterd WW1 there was no IRS and there was no income tax.
the reasoning for this was that before WW1 we had a very small standing army (more of a home gard) after the war it was decided that we HAD to have a standing army (along with our navy) so the tax was kept. please take this in the spirit it was writen, not as a rebuke.
my 2 cents
MP - Thursday, 04/11/02 06:21:42 GMT

Tom Schray, Touchstone Craft Center is having a Hammer-in May 4-5, southwestern Pennsylvania.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/11/02 12:25:33 GMT

Tom Schray, Touchstone Craft Center is having a Hammer-in May 4-5, southwestern Pennsylvania.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/11/02 12:25:33 GMT

Motavations: Thank's MP; you beat me to it. TJ had massive problems with his finances and suffered quite a lot trying to save his home---read his calculations on how a nail forging shop could help. As to what his motivations were---well you look at what he did and what he wrought to his friends and others and you get a pretty good place to guess from---much better than just guessing from no data or pushing your own views back on peole from a different time and mores.

BTW Ben Franklin was the real "Father" of our country with 13? acknowledged children sired out of wedlock---one of which was a Tory Govenor of a colony during the revolution---it wasn't such a big thing back them as it was after being viewed through victorian standards of the next century.

The current letter I'm reading is developing the theme that the debts of a person should die with them and so no debt that exceeds their estate could be handed down to their children---a very pro business view??? The rights of taxaction and the dangers of a standing army was also debated a lot as well as how to re-pay the debt run up by the revolution and the disgracefull way that politicians manipulated that process (sound familiar?).

I've always been of the opinion that one should not accept other peoples interpretations of things; you need to go to the original sources and read them---it's amazing how far from the originals "conventual wisdom" gets---take Machiavelli's "the Prince" for instance...

I'd be happy to cite the collection I'm reading for you. TJ's currently in France in the start up phase of the French Revolution and his comments on it are interesting---at least to me.

- Thomas Powers - Thursday, 04/11/02 14:14:03 GMT

It is more complex than what has been typed thus far.

Some of our Founding Fathers were the best that the Enlightenment produced, their motives were altruistic, a sense of dutyóthat they could afford.

Some were politically/economically motivated.


A summary of the diverse fortunes and fates of the Founding Fathers.

"...we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

(Each year information about those who signed the Declaration of Independence is circulated, not all of which is accurate. The following note is based on research in several established sources, which are noted below.)

Fifty-six individuals from each of the original 13 colonies participated in the Second Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. Pennsylvania sent nine delegates to the congress, followed by Virginia with seven and Massachusetts and New Jersey with five. Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina each sent four delegates. Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina each sent three. Rhode Island, the smallest colony, sent only two delegates to Philadelphia.

Nine of the signers were immigrants, two were brothers, two were cousins, and one was an orphan. The average age of a signer was 45. The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, who was 70 when he signed the Declaration. The youngest was Thomas Lynch, Jr., of South Carolina, who was 27.

Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures. Twenty-two were lawyers--although William Hooper of North Carolina was "disbarred" when he spoke out against the Crown--and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been Governor of Rhode Island.

Although two others had been clergy previously, John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend--he wore his pontificals to the sessions. Almost all were Protestant Christians; Charles Carroll of Maryland was the only Roman Catholic signer.

Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four each at Yale and William & Mary, and three at Princeton. John Witherspoon was the president of Princeton and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary, where his students included the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

Seventeen of the signers served in the military during the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was one of the commanding officers in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a Major General in the Delaware militia and John Hancock was the same in the Massachusetts militia.

Five of the signers were captured by the British during the war. Captains Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton (South Carolina) were all captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780; Colonel George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists and died in 1781.

Colonel Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy--compelled to remove my family five times in a few months, and at last fixed them in a little log house on the banks of the Susquehanna . . . and they were soon obliged to move again on account of the incursions of the Indians." Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. The son of John Witherspoon, a major in the New Jersey Brigade, was killed at the Battle of Germantown.

Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis's New York home was destroyed and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson (both of Virginia) lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, but were never repaid.

Fifteen of the signers participated in their states' constitutional conventions, and six--Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, James Wilson, and George Reed--signed the United States Constitution. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts attended the federal convention and, though he later supported the document, refused to sign the Constitution.

After the Revolution, 13 of the signers went on to become governors, and 18 served in their state legislatures. Sixteen became state and federal judges. Seven became members of the United States House of Representatives, and six became United States Senators. James Wilson and Samuel Chase became Justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Elbridge Gerry each became Vice President, and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson became President. The sons of signers John Adams and Benjamin Harrison also became Presidents.

Five signers played major roles in the establishment of colleges and universities: Benjamin Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania; Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Benjamin Rush and Dickinson College; Lewis Morris and New York University; and George Walton and the University of Georgia.

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Carroll were the longest surviving signers. Adams and
Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Charles Carroll of Maryland was the last signer to die--in 1832 at the age of 95.

Sources: Robert Lincoln, Lives of the Presidents of the United States, with Biographical Notices of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (Brattleboro Typographical Company, 1839); John and Katherine Bakeless, Signers of the Declaration (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969); Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989).

B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies
- sometimelurker - Thursday, 04/11/02 18:37:20 GMT

American Revolution: The Americans were heavily influenced by French and German writers on government and human rights. Jefferson distributed copies of books he obtained in France to others that would eventualy become our "patriots". Much of the philosophy of our Bill of Rights came from these sources.

A little known fact of the Revolution is that the new states setup war funds and had payments that were due to British Merchants put into those funds. After the war the British Merchants still wanted their money and took (mostly prominant American partiots) to court to collect their depts. Those that paid into the state funds claimed their debts were paid. As a new nation determined to let rule of law govern us we let the British Merchants use our court system to attempt to collect their debts.

Eventualy President George Washington settled with the British Merchants for two million dollars. However, the British Merchants were not satisfied and continued to hound the American Patriots. Most did not live to see the cases settled and their widows ended up paying the debts out of their husbands estates. Patrick Henry was one of these debtors and fought in court for the Virginians. However, he was another that did not see the case settled in his life time.

The history books make it sound like a fairy story "and they lived happily ever after". . . but this was REAL LIFE and they did not.
- guru - Thursday, 04/11/02 22:15:27 GMT

My only point is that it is a mistake to paint with a broad brush concerning the Founding Fathers.

It wasnít a fairy tale, that is true, Some did indeed die impoverished, Stockton; some lost everything and recovered, MíKean ( or McKean); some wouldíve been in debt no matter what, Jefferson; some kept their finances in order and continued to build, John Adams. Etc&Etc.

The issue of settlement of debt to British Merchants and the Tories who had their property confiscated set the stage for the War of 1812 (it could be argued that the Rebellion never really ended until the War of 1812 was concluded.)

Jefferson was a complex man beset by internal contradictions.

Compare and contrast Jefferson and John Adams to get an idea of the differences.

For some insight on the writers that provided the foundation of thought the Founding Fathers built on, if anyone is so inclined, check out this link (Never thought I would find this jewel on the world wide web of Ö., there are a few jewels in the www of c, the writers on this site comprising another. Was a long time ago when the Prof was trying to drill this stuff in my head.) :

In light of what that link contains (and the Federalist Papers and the thoughts/writings of the Founding Fathers) one might want to muse on the de facto abdication of power, and consequently responsibility, by the Executive and Legislative branches to the Judicial branch, Supreme Court. Americans to be ruled by 9 Philosopher Kings.

Hope everyone has a good spring and a bag full of morels.
- sometimelurker - Friday, 04/12/02 02:38:10 GMT

Tony: Thanks Thomas, MP, Guru, and Sometimelurker! Iím fully aware that some of the founders ended up destitute. But I do stand by my opinion that the founding fathers were motivated by money more than rights for the people. As a general (broad brush) statement. Any general statement will have some exceptions. That should be understood. Iím sorry it wasnít. But does the general statement stand when all are lumped together? Whether they were successful in achieving what they wanted is a totally different thing. This is not about just Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas, just because you may not agree with me does not give you the right to infer that I am pushing my views on anyone. As I said and have said before, Iím offering them for consideration. Keep it a little cleaner will you? Guessing from no data? Or were you talking about someone else? Grin.

It IS my opinion that anyone who has children out of marriage and has slaves is not fit to legislate human rights. Or legislate anything for that matter. No matter what the mores of the times are. I agree with much of what Jefferson wrote. But I do not condone all that he did.

And I agree that one should not accept others interpretations. That includes ďhistorical biographiesĒ as I said. Everyone should take it all in and form their own opinions.

Debts of a person should die with them? Potentially meaning that one can acquire on credit and then die leaving the creditors unpaid?. Which in reality means that the creditors will spread the risk out, via higher interest rates, to those that DO pay their debts. Not much integrity in that concept. Thatís one of the things I dislike. Paying the debts of the ignorant and dishonest. One must take responsibility for their actions and ones family must expect the estate to be reduced by those debts. Even if it wipes it out. Children should not have to pay beyond the estate value however. Wives, yes. Trusts should have to go to pay debt also. One should not be able to shield his debt by trusts. Is that what Jefferson meant? Donít get me wrong, I have no love for creditors as they prey on the ignorant, but it is, again, the honest common man who makes up for the dishonest. Not the creditor in most cases.

Now, IF the founding fathers felt that the only way they could finance the independence was to go into debt and then claim bankruptcy, maybe I agree that would have been worth it.

Money, power and sex. They have been the three motivators for many for quite some time.

Thomas, yes, please cite what you are reading. Iíve enjoyed reading much of what you have cited in the past.

Sometimelurker, thanks. Has most of the power has been given to the supreme court? Some surely has, and yes, the responsibility along with it. Seems like much of the gray and emotional stuff has, but the economic stuff seems to be held pretty close by the legislative branch. Examples to the contrary?

Bill Epps, do you have an e-mail address for Ward Grossman? I saw him demo at Pontiac IL a couple summers ago. Talented and seemed a nice guy. Iíd like to send condolences even though he doesnít know me from Adam. I wonít send if you think that is invading his privacy.
Tony - Friday, 04/12/02 14:08:14 GMT

Ward's E-mail addy: I've sent it to Tony. Please do not post it publicly.
- guru - Friday, 04/12/02 14:45:34 GMT

TJ: Thomas Jefferson Writings; Library of America

Where he seemed to be going with debt is that no national debt should be incurred that could not be paid off in 19 years (being a "generation" of people older than 21)---ie you could not pass the national debt onto people who had no part in its creation. This is in his letters from around 1789-90 and is referencing the start of the French Revolution and where they should go with their "new" govenment.

I think it's time to go hit some iron rather than the books; cause you won't be happy with *most* of the people who lived 200 or more years ago. I'm offline till Monday anyway.

- Thomas Powers - Friday, 04/12/02 16:11:21 GMT

The Revolutionary Blacksmith:

I've been getting quite a few questions about the book lately, so here's an update.

My publisher's husband was diagnosed with three brain tumors, metastized from un-diagnosed lung cancer. He's a
level 4 cancer patient. Last monday he was in the hospital for his last chemo treatment. Had a seizure and they lost him for a bit. Got him back. Yesterday he got out of bed for the first time since monday. Long enough to eat dinner and go back to bed.

I told Tracy (the publisher, and a darn good friend) to forget about the da** book and take care of her husband. It'll be out this year sometime, but I have no idea when.

Nor do I plan on worrying about it or pushing Tracy.

When it does come out, there will be an announcement made.
Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 04/13/02 04:16:35 GMT

Pete F: No sense rushing a good historical novel..history keeps rather well...mostly.
Pete F - Sunday, 04/14/02 05:52:29 GMT

Trip Hammer & Tony: Hey guys...I am in AZ.and have a pretty good old style 50lb. Little Giant for sale.It came off a line shaft and needs a motor ,but looks to be in pretty good shape.I'll call it a fixer upper.I also have about 5 very good coal forges at various prices.Pick up only.
It distresses me when I hear opinions like poor misguided Tony in regard to the founding fathers.As a lifetime student of history I cannot believe anyone one would consider the founding fathers and the concept of our Constitution anything short of miraculous.This country was conceived at a time when tyranny was rampant and tolerance was unheard of.The founders may have not been saints in all of their exploits,but their contribution to mankind greatly overshadows anything improper they might have done.You have to understand that slavery was the norm for the time and if you remember it finally did get resolved.Tony,do your self a favor and go to the library and read a book called "Our Sacred Honor"by William J. Bennett.It will give you a clear understanding about what these men were made of and the hardships they endured.As a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence all these liberals trying to rewrite history is disgraceful.
Barry Denton - Monday, 04/15/02 13:23:41 GMT

I'm going to jump to Tony'd defense a little, even though he's perfectly capable of defending himself.

I don't think Tony is a "liberal trying to rewrite history". I think he's an honest man, trying to see ALL the sides of the story.

And you are not the only "lifetime student of history" present. So try to stay out of the academic "ivory tower". Arguing from authority doesn't usually reveive much respect from blacksmiths, we tend to be a pretty independent bunch of people.
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/15/02 14:21:01 GMT

Thumb Latch: Does anyone have a document describing the making of a thumb latch? I have reviewed the very excellent demo pages here, and they have been helpful, but I would love to find a more complete how-to description.

I am a "recreational" blacksmith; I just re-fired up my forge (no activity for about 8 years) to work on hardware for renovations on our old stone barn. I can't possibly say how cool it was to stumble on this site, what a great resource!

Thanks for any help you can give.

Bill F
Bill Flather - Monday, 04/15/02 18:15:34 GMT

Liberal? :
Paw Paw, you hit it on the head as usual. And thanks for the support/clarification. Note that I do not assume you agree with any of my statements or opinions.

Barry, listen to yourself. You want me to take ONE persons account of what our founding fathers were like. Correct?

Furthermore, in every part of this discourse, I have commended the founding fathers for what they accomplished. Please read the whole before you pick away at some of the comments. You miss the point entirely.

Please, disagree away. But donít resort to comments like ďpoor misguidedĒ. You donít know me from Adam and I think you should be able to do better than that. And do NOT make assumptions or incorrect statements about my motivations. ďtrying to rewrite historyĒ That is precisely what I am questioning. Some, (most) at least incomplete historical accounts. The part of my original comment directed to the founding fathers was partially to point out that they were NOT the all perfect people that most historians want and do make them out to be. To be sure, they set things up better than I think we would/could today.

Iíll give you this. You are the FIRST person to call me a liberal. What a hoot. Please believe that I will be printing that and showing it to more than a few people. Heck, I think Iíll laminate it and keep it in my wallet so I can show it to people at appropriate times.

Is it correct that your opinion is that the founding fathers were motivated less by money than rights for the people? Donít worry, I will respect your opinion even if you donít allow me mine.

How will history write the actions of congress in the Enron debacle? Probably as the good people who hauled Enron execs before congress and admonished them in public. Youíve seen it. ďgood senator so and so asked some very pointed questions of.......Ē

What salve is that for the hard working people who lost their 401kís?

Congress is the bunch who wrote the laws ALLOWING the unreal financial activity. Do you realize that?

Not to mention how much of MY and your tax money was, and will be, spent to allow it and clean it up. Not much discussion of that by the journalists is there? Why not? Donít you want to know?

Iím not comparing the founding fathers to the current politicians. I am now (again) pointing out that ALL historical accounts are imperfect and mostly serve those writing, or quoting, the account.


Lastly, norm or not, NO good deeds make up for slavery or unsupported children out of wedlock. That, again, is my opinion. You can disagree if you like.
Tony - Monday, 04/15/02 20:02:17 GMT

Let me see what I can find, I think I've got something that has a set of pictures in it.

But darned if I know where it is at the moment.
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/15/02 20:02:24 GMT

I don't agree with everything GOD says or does, you expect me to agree with everything you say or do??? (BIG GRIN)

That caveat written, our opinions are not too far apart.
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/15/02 21:30:30 GMT

Paw Paw & Tony: Well Paw Paw I didn't realize that I had put myself in the academic "Ivory Tower",but so be it.I was just trying to lend some credence to my arguement.Of course the only people I know more independent than blacksmiths are horseshoers and I have been one for 27 years now.
Tony,I don't expect anyone in history or presently to be perfect.I also agree with you that children out of wedlock and slavery are bad things.My suggestion for you to read Bill Bennett's book was because it is one of the best on the subject and I have read literally hundreds of others.It gives a clear understanding of the grave situation of the revolution from the letters of the people involved.It is a compilation of actual letters from the folks that you were talking about.Not much opinion from the author.
Thanks for coming back on this subject as there are too many folks that wouldn't.I feel better about you and repectfully disagree.If you can see humor in me insinuating you might be a liberal that's good! Cheers!
Barry Denton - Monday, 04/15/02 22:17:37 GMT

Your statement "life long student of history" seemed to imply that. And that could have just been my perception of the moment, as well.

We can cuss, discuss, and agree to dis-agree, and still retain our respect for each other.
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/15/02 22:40:30 GMT

Barry: I guess what I'm trying to say is that "life long student of history" seemed to be somewhat condescending. Not saying that is how you meant it, just that's how I perceived it.

And I've been wrong many times. (grin)

One of the problems with this medium of discussion is that we can't see each other's faces or hear tones of voice. The medium by it's very nature is two dimensional. And we're used to communicating in at least three, sometimes four, dimensions.

But alas and a alack, I wax philosophical, and I'd be better off waxing the wife's car. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 04/16/02 00:22:07 GMT

Bill, If you can afford Albert Sonn's
  Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/16/02 02:44:46 GMT

"Early American Wrought Iron", all the latch parts are clearly shown in the book. And you might tune in to a catalog which shows installation:
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/16/02 02:48:59 GMT

Re the founding father thread, I have not much to offer. However, I have a sign in my shop, "No one knows 10% of anything". It's been a long while since I have read Kenneth Roberts, but his carefully researched novels shed some light on revolutionary times. He talked about the loyalist point of view as well as the revolutionists' view. "Rabble in Arms", "Lydia Bailey", and "Arundel" come to mind.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/16/02 03:08:00 GMT

Mr. B. Flather /// Thumb Latch /// Instructions/Plans.
Try the following references for thumb latch smithing information:
1)Practical Projects For The Blacksmith Ted Tucker ISBN 0-8757-312-7. section 17 "door latches" pgs. 117- 130. This covers several latches including a Norfolk Latch, and a Suffolk latch, and hasps, and latch plates.
2)Professional Smithing, Donald Streeter, Astragal Press. (centaur Forge, & Lindsay Publications sell it). pgs 106-112, Norfolk Latch. (excellent how-to using pictures).
3) 24 Blacksmithing Projects, Percy W. Blandford, Tab Books,section 12, pgs 52-61. (really good diagrams)
4) Practical Blacksmithing and Metalworking, Percy W. Blandford, Tab Books, pgs 188-195.
5) The Blacksmith Journal's index, lists 3 promising articles. (I have not checked them out ) vol. # 15 "door latch", Vol.3 # 24 "drop latch", Vol.6 # 70 "thumb latch".
Hope that helps. Good luck latching.
Spring has arrived,in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (clear weather in the 70's tomorrow).
Regards to all.
slag - Tuesday, 04/16/02 03:46:58 GMT

history: history is written BY the victors! any thing we read will be colored to their views.
MP - Tuesday, 04/16/02 12:38:34 GMT

ThumbLatches: Thanks for the replies, I will check into these references. I guess it is dreaming to find a pictoral on-line tutorial eh? After searching through all of the on-line info I can find I can see that part of my problem in making the bean ends is that I don't have any swage blocks to make that nice shoulder, when I try to flatten the end, it wants to spread upward rather than to the sides. Ignorance. I used a chisel to make the slot for the pivot, that seemed to work but needs some refinement. I also need to find some flat stock rather than start with round bar, what a lot of extra work to flatten the darn thing first!

I am trying to keep ahead of the Amish crew working on the barn. Today they start re-building the forebay wall. Gosh it felt food to work with that anvil again.

Bill Flather - Tuesday, 04/16/02 12:40:52 GMT

Slag: BTW, Spring here as well (central PA), today should be clear and mid-80's. Perhaps record setting and warmer that I would like. Last frosts can come up to the end of April and all of the fruit trees are really coming out now. Does make it hard to stay inside.

Bill Flather - Tuesday, 04/16/02 12:45:21 GMT

Thumblatch: Found one! Check this out:
Bill Flather - Wednesday, 04/17/02 13:38:28 GMT

Does anyone have information about Boy Scout Blacksmithing Merit Badge book. I am interested in getting involved locally and want to know the requirements. I have talked with a scoutmaster here and he has no info yet and is also looking.
R Guess - Wednesday, 04/17/02 19:53:57 GMT

The merit badge requirements are located at the URL below.
Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 04/17/02 20:04:58 GMT

Nice catch! I book marked that one for future reference. Molly and George do some nice work.
Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 04/17/02 20:24:12 GMT

Metalwork merit badge: Paw Paw...Thanks a million for the Scout site.
this will help get me and some local scouts started.
R Guess - Thursday, 04/18/02 22:13:01 GMT

Merit Badge: Randall,
The merit badge book is out (and really well done!). Go to your scout store and make them order it if they havn't recvd it yet. Help them out and pull the old books from the shelf. Our Tidewater council shop didn't have them till I prodded. Good luck with the merit badge, it's extensive and the boys will really EARN it.
Rob Costello - Friday, 04/19/02 14:17:52 GMT

Randall and Rob:
Guess who's grand son is almost finished with the badge? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 04/19/02 15:41:39 GMT

Thumb Latch: Bill, There is a photo of one I made out of 1/4" x 1" stainless steel on the 21st Century page.

No swage blocks were used. All the work was done on a common London pattern anvil using a 3 pound smithing hammer. The hole for the latch was pierced with a small 1/2" wide "cold" chisel. It was a relatively simple job but you need to know where you are going before you start. That was my first and last latch. General forging practice helps.
- guru - Saturday, 04/20/02 02:03:29 GMT

Merit Badge: In February I helped Bruce Blackistone with the metalworking merit badge at a "Merit Badge Jamboree" in Northern Virgina.

Bruce took the boys through the sheet metal parts and I took them through the forging. Seems we ran eight or ten boys through the "course". Out of that group there was one boy that had a little experiance cold working metal and using tools. He actually finished a real project, a nicely made scounce. There was one that clumsy enough with a hammer that it would have taken a week to get him up to par with the rest of the boys but most had never used a hammer prior to this. I felt this was a pretty typical group.

They all did very simple forging projects but it was all we could do in one day and did not really meet the full requirements. Each forged an "S" hook and a tent stake. To meet those requirements would probably take 8 hours of forge time and instruction per boy. Our groups only got about two hours per team of two or an hour each forging time.

However, this was a transitional year and the supervisor or counselor has a lot of leeway in determining if the boys meet the requirements. The boys all did much more than they would have needed to do in the past.

In a workshop of this nature I would prefer to have two full days to process this many boys through the complete requirements. About the only objects that I could think of that met all the requirements (including a rivet) were sconces. This requires that there are the proper precut peices of stock available (cups and pans) OR that the items are made in a well equiped shop.

We had only one forge fired up, an NC Whisper Baby, so we didn't have to take the time to work with solid fuel. We had two anvils (old beat up antiques that couldn't be hurt). It may have been possible to have done more with two forges and 4 anvils but in an intense situation like this working with 4 boys at a time in teams of two (one forging the other assisting) and all needing to be watched closely. . . It was about all one instructor could handle. Remember, these are 12 and 14 year olds that have never done anything like this. I think that in a more relaxed situation more equipment would have helped.

It was loads of fun but I would have prefered a different situation and more time.
- guru - Saturday, 04/20/02 03:48:33 GMT

When our oldest went off to Rice architecture school, he found that he was the only person in his entire class who had ever hammered a nail. And the only person who had ever built anything.
miles undercut - Saturday, 04/20/02 04:27:30 GMT

It usually takes adult students who've not used tools, about 30 hours to learn how to hammer with proper leverage, force, and style. The same is true with managing a coal forge fire in a non-cognitive manner.

In high school, in the 1950s, there always seemed to be a coterie of Fonzie types who worked incessantly on their cars. They had the D.A. (duck's ass) haircuts and the comb hanging out of the back pocket. These "mechanics" knew how to use tools; they would talk about "lifting the head and dropping the pan". They were not on the pop/jock end of the continuum, nor were they on the nerdy end...somewhere in between. I much later heard them referred to as "greasy-grimys". But no matter. Percentage wise, I think those kind of guys are harder to find nowadays.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/20/02 13:10:55 GMT

Centaur Forge: Does anyone know if Centaur Forge has some technical problem with their email? I emailed twice, several days apart, for a price quote and have yet to get a response.

- Taylor - Saturday, 04/20/02 16:45:08 GMT

You know one, though. But the Army cut his DA off. And I've never grown it back. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 04/20/02 23:18:06 GMT

Hi, I was wondering if it was still ok for me to pick up the anvil. If so i would becoming to pick it up somtime before June 14. (I have a wedding to go to)I need your email to tell you the exact date, and to know your address.

  Joel - Sunday, 04/21/02 19:51:44 GMT

Who are you talking to? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/22/02 02:02:28 GMT

RE the D.A. boys : these day to work on a car like that you realy need to be a "geek" ... even the darn dash board has a computer!!!

I went to a tech school and there was a lot of that type around .. and that wasn't all that long ago... only 8 years or so.
we called them gearheads.
MP - Monday, 04/22/02 03:48:30 GMT

Sorry, computer must of gotten it, its to steve_c.
  OH Joel - Monday, 04/22/02 21:28:06 GMT

Stuff happens. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/22/02 23:11:00 GMT

BUFFALO FORGE: I just inherited a Heavy Duty Vulcan Tuyere 14 coal forge and a Peter Wright Anvil with the following markings: Rough, 2 20 - L. I would appreciate any information about these two items. I am especially interested in the coal forge since I have a experience in welding, heat treatment and metal fabrication while in the US Navy from 1971 to 1999.
Lloyd Broughton - Tuesday, 04/23/02 02:40:36 GMT

Gearheads: Frank, we're still around. I rebuilt two transfer cases this weekend, checked the compression and adjusted the timing on one of the diesels, changed glow plugs, and will be rebuilding a steering box and idler and pitman arms in the next few days.

Past mechanical work list is long. I hope the future list is even longer.

I didn't do much of it in high school, but I do it now so I can teach my son how it's done, not to be afraid of it, and to save money and aggravation. I also just like to build stuff.

I can't stand having someone else do work for me and screw it up. And then still want me to pay them for it.

I know how to use a multimeter, but avoid the electronic controlled vehicles because I can't "see" the darn electrons. Grin. And the electrons taking a non planned path has left me stranded before.
Tony - Tuesday, 04/23/02 10:15:04 GMT

Centaur Forge: Taylor, Etal.

Centaur Forge is under new management. Amy Pieh has been forced out by employees working for the "heirs" of Bill and Bonney Pieh. There are lots of changes being made including their dropping their advertising on anvilfire. :(

- guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 16:11:20 GMT


I'll be out of town from tomorrow morning, (wednesday) until next monday afternoon, (april 29th). Have a good time,
and try to stay out of trouble at least until I get back. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 04/23/02 16:14:09 GMT

Gearheads and Hammers:
A few decades before "our" time and the domination of automobiles those that had a mechanical bent became blacksmiths and engineers. When someone took engineering courses they learned blacksmithing as well as basic machine tool practices.

When I went to school they wouldn't let you take shop classes other than drafting if you were on the "college track". So those in the shop were not expected to need a higher education. . . Girls couldn't take shop classes including drafting at the time.

I had spent many years building competitive Soap Box racers and working on machinery prior to high school and was disappointed that they wouldn't let me in the shop classes. . . But with a mechanical backgound and knowing how to READ a manual, I built a reputation as the best British car mechanic in town. . . Today operating machine tools or working on a late model auto is closer to rocket science that mechanics and NEEDS a higher education. But you need both.

The lack of mechanical know-how now plagues many areas including engineering and blacksmithing. There are too many engineers that know the theory and the math but have no practical experiance including driving a nail.

In blacksmithing we see the same problems. Many cannot tighten a bolt or use an oil can. They have figured out how to hit a piece of steel but can't make or maintain their own tools.

Many years ago at the first ABANA conference I attended, a demonstrator started to forge something with the 50# Little Giant that had been provided. The guide bolts were loose and the hammer started to fall apart. The demonstrator announced that he could not continue and walked off in a huff. . . As soon as the crowd cleared out, a friend and I adjusted the hammer and tightened the bolts using tongs while someone went looking for a wrench. Before they got back with an adjustable Cresent wrench we had the hammer running nicely. We sent the gofer for an oil can. . .

The hammer ran constantly for the rest of the weekend without further adjustment. We never knew if the demonstrator was a primadona or just didn't know how to use a wrench. But since then I have come to the conclusion that he probably couldn't use a wrench. I have met many more in our trade that don't have as much mechanical background as they need. They are artists and hobbiests. That is fine, but they need to work on their mechanical skills.

This past weekend a fellow asked me about finding an operating manual for his power hammer so he could learn how to adjust it. I said there were no operating manuals. . . When the machine was built folks were expected to have the mechaical know-how before being alowed to operate machines. A salesman might have given a few instructions but most likely pointing out, "that's the stroke adjustment, and above it is the travel adjustment. . ." And that was it.

But even then you needed to be able to READ instructions. The mechanical know-how didn't just come from a vacuume. Even though machinery rarely came with detailed instructions there WAS general literature available. I just answered a question about removing the ram from a large steam hammer. The original source was an old 1921 Audels steam manual. One of a 8 book set.

Today to be an auto mechanic is worse than keeping up with the newest version of Microsnot software. . . I don't know how they do it. But I suspect most DON'T from my experiance. . . too many models and too many changes. Personaly, I gave up auto mechanics in the 1970's when wires and vacuume lines replaced REAL linkages.

Blacksmithing is not just taking your frustrations out on a piece of hot iron. . . its also knowing how and when to use an oil can.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 17:02:25 GMT

help: i was wondering if you could e-mail me and offer me some advice, Lordofdlost at, i have been trying to learn but haven't been finding any resources, thanx
Tvelhh - Tuesday, 04/23/02 17:31:47 GMT

gearheads : my father is a tool design engineer (read a verry good draftsman) he never finshed college but has worked as a draftsman long enought to be grandfathered the title of engineer. I am told he is one of the top 10 in his field. one of his bigest complants when working with a new engineer fresh out of school is that they don't seem to have a clue as to how there designs will be made or used. most (if not all) have never held a tool in there hands or used one for anything other than the most basic of uses.

he has shown me prints that were let out of the shop by these fools. one had 4 blind taped holes on the inside of a double blind inder cut (located and in SQ by +-.0005) when he asked the guy why he designed it like that he was told it made the part count less!! only to my knolage the part couldn't be made! and the other part in the assembley wouldn't fit inside to be bolted to the taped holes nor could the bolts be tightened as a wrench wouldn't fit!!
and these are the ones that design jets and turbines??

MP - Tuesday, 04/23/02 17:36:12 GMT

No, usualy some pretty bright people work on critical stuff or have close overview by someone with experiance. Where the REAL trouble comes is when design by committee and corporate politics get involved. . . The other problem is letting off experianced higher paid employees and replacing them with inexperianced lower paid fresh from school employees. . .

Working on your own car (or even appliances) rapidly teaches you that nuts, bolts and screws need adequate access. But now days nobody works on their own cars (and rightly so). . . Hence, little practical mechanical experiance.

I've gone through design reviews where the guys doing the reviewing had no common sense much less real design experiance and defending your design became like the Inquisition. There was no right answer and the truth be damned. In the end not a single thing was changed. . . but it was very frustrating trying to talk to these guys.

The same guys, working for a big corp, designed parts like you mentioned. . . Thats why *I* was doing the design work as an outside vender.

Where engineering problems now commonly occur is when fancy new computer software gives the wrong answer (usualy due to input error) and the engineer doesn't catch it.

People are also easily blinded by too many decimals in a number that don't count. They end up chasing values that can not be measured in the real world. False accuracy is a common problem. And even folks that know calculus and statistics are often numerically illiterate.

Back in the slide rule days 3 digits was the best you could do in most cases. And that was all that was needed in 99.9% of applications. Where higher accruacies are needed in the modern world is astro-navigation and micro engineering.

- guru - Wednesday, 04/24/02 18:03:00 GMT

Above: Jock,
Don't you mean 99.99% of the time.
L.Sundstrom - Wednesday, 04/24/02 22:26:26 GMT

he said 3 digits so that would be 99.999% (grin)
my old man got into his current job by being one of those
  MP - Thursday, 04/25/02 04:35:08 GMT

Slide rule: I taught my eleven year old how to use one. I could only remember how to * & / . He thought it was cool. His teacher had never used one. I quess we are getting old.
- Daryl - Thursday, 04/25/02 05:02:10 GMT

In order to be good, engineers need experience (among other things). Just like smiths or designers or teachers, or.....

Is a young or inexperienced smith a ďfoolĒ just because they screw up?

One of the reasons many new engineers don't know squat, is like Jock said, they have no experience working with the things they are designing. But another reason is that many don't want to get "dirty". Dirty being different for a mechanical engineer than an electrical or chemical or nuclear. I see too many engineers that want to fly the desk and not get out and work with the maintenance guy or the assemblers or the customers. I try to only hire the ones who like to get dirty. Generally means they do, or want to, know squat about the things they are working with. One should have a passion for what one does.

And itís up to the parents and family to instill that in them. School isnít going to do it any more.

Funny how so much in life goes back to how you were raised when young. So many seem to want to make the family life not necessary to be a good productive person. Personally, I think a bad raising cannot be overcome by *most* kids. Opinions on that will vary. And note that I said most, not all. Just my experience.

Regarding engineering software.... I once had a ďdiscussionĒ with a very good engineering (and philosophy) professor. He asked me what I thought about education software. Having a student sit in front of a CRT and go through a program to learn instead of sitting in front of a teacher with a class. I told him I thought it would result in very poor students on average. I think that one needs immediate feedback and clarification to learn the best. He didnít agree and lamented that good teachers are hard to get and there is a shortage that can be overcome with good software. He was about 75 years old and I asked him the last time he tried to learn something from someone else. I did try some video engineering graduate courses once. Didnít work worth a damn. Iíve worked with a lot of engineering software. And Iíve NEVER seen good output from software run by someone that doesnít understand the real parts they are working with. Itís valuable, and saves test time and money, but must always be reviewed by someone who knows about what the answer should have been before the analysis was run.

Finally, ďnobody works on their own carsĒ? Hmmmmm, I always wondered if I really existed. Now I know. Grin. Truth be told, it is not cost effective for me to do the work myself. but my sanity (or lack thereof) requires it. A personal flaw. And yes, there are darn few vehicles I could do that with. Certainly nothing less than 10 years old.
Tony - Thursday, 04/25/02 15:16:34 GMT

lost most of my post there part of what was lost I said that i beleave that any machanical engineer should at the vary least take a basic machinist class. to meny M.E. haw no respect for the tool maker and machinist. I quit that kind of work becouse worrying over the tolarances was giveing me ulcers. ( 5 digits is to meny) but when I was a machinist there was a lot of M.E.'s that treated me like a fool. that never set well with me.
MP - Thursday, 04/25/02 17:13:06 GMT

Three Digits: 1,2,3. . . 9.99 or 99.9 or 999 or 9.9^9 or 9^99 You can describe the entire universe in 3 digits.

I've got several slide rule MANUALS and my Dad's old 18" engineering slide rule with Ivory scales. . . nothing legal is made with real ivory any more. . . When I went to high school I had a slide rule but my dad was issued a TI calculator by his employer. They were too expensive for individuals to afford at the time. . . 5 years later you could buy a TI-30 Solar for $11.95. Now we can all calculate to astro-navigation accuracies. . . but do any of us know enough geometry?

I think people should come to a job with SOME life experiance. Architects should have a LEAST built a tree house (or a mud hut) when they were kids. Engineers should have done SOMETHING more mechanical than change a tire on a bicyle. Those that want to be artist blacksmiths or decorative smiths should have some artistic background and be able to DRAW something. Or at least have enough mechanical background to maintain their machinery and if not take some time to learn.

The great James Nasmyth was taught how to draw as a child (his father was an artist) and he insisted that his employees know how to draw an object well enough to explain themselves to others. He thought drawing ability was one of the basics of being an engineer, machinist OR mechanic. And I agree.

99% of all the tons (100's of tons actualy) of machinery I've designed was mostly art. Imagine a machine that can do the job then draw the machine. If you can't draw what you imagine then you can't communicate it to others. Even fine details are a matter of imagination and then putting them down on paper. AFTER the rough sketching you get out the slide rule or calculator and determine if a part is strong enough or bolt big enough. Once you know the size and shape of key components (gears, bearings, shafts. . ) you draw them and suround them with the details that hold them together. It is a simple process but it requires imagination AND drawing ability. Final designs are sometimes the first drawing but most likely the third. In emergency situations I've been called upon to have drawings for a proposal on Saturday and be ordering cut materials on Monday. The drawiings don't have to be pretty but they need to convey what is needed.

Today most engineers and machinists learn just enough basic drafting to pass the course and then never pick up a pencil again.

- guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 19:08:34 GMT

Yeah, I've seen ME's drive machinists nuts. Just don't take it out on all of us, OK? Grin

Where I am now is basically a machine shop. And some of the engineers who report to me want to fly the desk. I force those who don't want to, to discuss preliminary designs with the machinists and manufacturing engineers. I will not allow engineers or designers to put stuff on paper without making sure it is done most cost effectively for the company. I force them to watch the parts through the machining and assembly and test process on every new design. They need to see where the problems are so they don't make them again.

I also have them generate example drawings with the help of the manufacturing people. So that every drawing follows the same format for similar parts. That way, the machinists don't have to hunt for information. Drawings and specs are communication tools. Functional to the company, not pretty to the engineer.

We have design checklists also to make sure that we do all we can to avoid missing something. Most of our product is modified custom.

The good engineers WANT to do these things.

The only machinists here who complain about us engineers now are the ones who don't want a challenge. We DO challenge manufacturing. Not to be a smart ass, but to make the best product we can.

Geez, I hope my competition isn't looking. Grin.
Tony - Thursday, 04/25/02 20:48:47 GMT

Drawing: Do you think it is an aquired skill or a gift. I've been at it for about 50 years and it doesn't show. But I will admit that paper is cheaper that steel and even though I don't use full scale drawing, I've made very few things that didn't begin with sketches. But Jock, he be with every line, an artist and much admired by this poor hack.
L.Sundstrom - Thursday, 04/25/02 21:01:58 GMT

skill or gift: I just can't shut up today. Larry, I think drawing can be acquired. But what is required to draw or sketch is visualization of the part/thing in your head. Many cannot visualize very well. Hence, we make models and prototypes.

I can't draw nearly as well as Jock either.
Tony - Thursday, 04/25/02 21:19:01 GMT

"Grear Heads ": I am still one of them. I only buy the old ones. Mainly so I can fix them. ie 79-3/4 ton Chev Crew Cab. Like and going to keep it. I work in a School Bus garage. I don't do the fixing part anymore. But we have a Mech that is just a parts changer now. He still makes his own add on tools, or gagets to fit the what ever. I still believe the hands on people make the best alround trades person. I was raise on a farm, back when you fixed it where it broke. Many days and nights helping fixing tractors etc in the feilds. I tell you, you sure learned quick. My son is now learning to repair his car in all weather. We don't have a garage big enough to fit it in.. So the driveway becomes our playground. Anyway keep fixing it, its cheaper than buying NEW....
Barney - Thursday, 04/25/02 23:48:21 GMT

Frank Oszewski : husband of Tracy, editor and publisher of Ruby Faire, died this morning.

We ask that you send prayers to the family.
- Paw-Paw Wilson - Friday, 04/26/02 02:06:58 GMT

Drawing: is learned. Some people like to think it is a natural or "god given" talent. That is only a very small part of it, maybe 5%.

I've been drawing since I was 5 years old. My father showed me how to draw an isometric boxes and I could apply it to a house drawing with roof, isometric chimney, doors and windows properly aligned. . . Its the one thing I could draw well in kindergarten and I practiced it.

I had a great aunt that was a primitive artist and painted birds (profiles only). I copied them. I now had an isometric house and cardinals in my "tool kit". When I started to prepare for the soap box dearby I started drawing cars. . boy were they BAD, but I got better. When I was 8-10 I watched John Nagey on TV and got one of his "Drawing with" kits. I learned about one and two point perspective and how to shade objects. I STUDIED drawing. I had another aunt that was an amature painter and she gave me a small oil painting set. I learned a little about oil painting and copied painting styles of my aunts and my father who had taken art classes in college.

I spent most of my school carreer drawing cars, girls. . more girls. I took art and 3 years of drafting in HS. I took these as easy passes but they gave me more practice. I designed competitive Soap Box Derby racers with my father's help on the drawing and full scale layouts. Besides building the cars I also did other smaller sculptures. In my senior year of HS I studied famous artists and made copies of works in the same media and syles as Degas, Renoir, David and Leanardo da Vinci.

I've been drawing my entire life. It may have come naturally, but I studied and practiced art a LOT. But the things I studied to draw were infinitely harder than machinery. I was a fair "instant" portrait artist and drawer of the female form at one time. But it requires practice to keep the skills. It would take me years to get back to the level I was at 30 years ago.

Almost anyone can learn to draw parts and machinery in three views, isometric or perspective. Getting and staying good takes practice. Now that I draw mostly for myself I've gotten sloppy.

Modern drafting uses many conventions that make drawings hard to read. In our family business we set our own standards. Threads on lead screws and worms were drawn as were most gears. Shafts were shaded, nuts drawn in full. Multiple sections were drawn as needed to make parts easy to understand. Notes were as copious as needed to be sure there were no misunderstandings of relationships or finishes. We always recieved complements from the people making our parts. They understood OUR standard.

Drawing is one of many hand skills that are needed in many fields. It even helps to make simple diagrams and flow charts.

As to mechanical skills. . would you rather have an orthopedic surgeon cutting on your bones who's hobby was golf or blacksmithing? (Or some other hand skill craft such as wood carving)?

We have several surgeons that frequent anvilfire that are hobby smiths. If I were given a choice in time of need, I'd take the blacksmith/surgeon every time.

-guru - Friday, 04/26/02 03:28:50 GMT

Drawing: Jock, when you started school, you had already developed a degree of drawing ability that approaches the limits of many people by time they leave.

I have seen a few people who have learned to draw at advanced ages, but generally speaking if you can't draw pretty well before you leave grade school no one will teach you.

Why? Because no one really taught the art teacher. Sure they taught him or her perspective, improved their use of light and shadow &c. But no one taught them to draw. If you haven't figured out the basics of drawing by time you enter middle school, you will be discouraged from pursuing art. Any art. :(

I periodically look for a drawing for klutzes class, but have yet to find one. (I actually saw one offered before I started looking. . .) I understand there is a book which does a good job of explaining how to draw to folks for whom it isn't obvious, but I have yet to find it.

Yes, I CAN do mechanical drawings by hand (slowly), at least so long as I don't have to do too many curves in isometrics. . . but light and shadow? forget it!
John Lowther - Friday, 04/26/02 17:27:53 GMT

Dear Mr. Lowther,
I must respectfully diagree (how's that for legalise).
Drawing is a matter of theory, instruction and suggestions. (read, get a good book there are many ) and one more, but crucially important ingredient PEACTICE 6 or 7 days every week, for at least six months. Ideally a year. Do that and you will become a better drawer. (Unless you have some physical, cognitive brain disorder such as stroke damage or serious head trauma). Being middle aged or older is not a fatal handicap to learning. It just my take such a person a little longer but not that much longer. Incidentally, the current, commonly accepted wisdom that the brain does not grow, and that brain cells do not divide in the adult has recently been shown to be incorrect. Cell division has been shown in an area, of the brain, called the hippocampus and in some other areas. The hippocampus is crucial to laying down new memories (and thus learning).
There are several famous artists that got started in middle age and quickly cought up, to and surpassed their artist peers. Grandma Moses (a famous American primitive artist with a superb sense of artistic design), started painting in her late seventies when arthritis forced her to give up knitting. She continued painting and improving beyond age one hundred. If we believe we can and follow it up with regular practice we will. If we are conviced we cannot, we will surely fail. It's prophecy that is self fulfilling. Several people have asked how did I ever learned Gregg shorthand. It's easy a half hour a day for two years. It just takes pig headed persistant, persistance (and a good book or teacher). There are several books, in print, that address the subject of light, shadow, and values.
If you really want to improve as a drawer or artist, get started and KEEP AT IT.
And best wishes you will make it.
Regards to All, up north of Y'aal.
It's a typical rainy, gloomy April day in Montreal this afternoon. May is coming.
P.S. contact me for suitable titles on the type of art you want to get better at.
slag - Friday, 04/26/02 19:26:18 GMT

I'm way past middle age and my hippopottamus is still growing
jarhead - Friday, 04/26/02 23:19:38 GMT

"Middle Age" : I am some where in there. Draw when needed. Most times I work it out on the spot.. Are better still, build and make adjustments as the project grows.. Everybody as their own way, as long as the end result works out for them..
You all have a forging good weekend I am demo time this weekend... Chow all....
Barney - Saturday, 04/27/02 01:07:24 GMT

Drawing: Although I have trouble remembering the names of people I met yesterday or was even introduced to 5 seconds ago (please excuse me its a deep phycological problem), and was never good at rout memorization (I fought it in school). . .

I can remember many very specific moments in my life going back to when I was about 2 years old and increasing over time. For this reason I get along very well with children OR NOT, if they are being dishonest and manipulative. I remember being a child much better than almost anyone I know.

When and how I learned many things sticks in my mind. And I remember MANY long hours drawing things repeatedly. Practicing simple hand movements to make circles and elipses. Fitting elipses in isometric boxes and drawing boxes of all sorts in perspective then fitting things in those boxes. I KNOW drawing is learned and I know how *I* learned to draw.

Slag's mentioning writing is a good example. When you learn to write in English you learn to DRAW 104 distinct characters (26 characters in upper and lower, then in two styles, print and script). Each of these characters has parts shapes and styles. Drawing ANTHING takes practice and any given object is built on the other. Most things have many less drawn details than learning four alphabets.

I can draw faces but I have to work on men's faces or they turn out looking feminine. That is because I have drawn millions of female faces but only dozens of mens. I can draw feminine faces and bodies from imagination in great detail because that is what I have PRACTICED and studied. When drawing likenesses from someone sitting I have no problem, but that is different.

When you draw a face you start with the shape of the scull, set the eyes, nose and mouth. Placement is learned and I often draw vertical and horizontal center lines and cue points. Each part has the same details and the same lines on every face, they are just adjusted for each person. It takes practice drawing details of each part. It takes study of hair lines and ear shapes. . . Study and Practice. Then when drawing from life it takes attention to detail.

I use a layout method of drawing. Some people simply start at any given point and work out. They are two distinct ways of drawing and have to do with basic wiring of the mind.

I cannot draw animals. My cats look like dogs and dogs look like cats, horses are from another planet and I turn the leg joints the wrong way in all four legged animals (my appologies to all four legged animals). Although I have tried I have not had a great interest so I have not studied them. I have done afew excersizes from books put I have not practiced so I forget. Not everyone can draw everything from memory or imagination.

I've practiced drawing and painting landscapes. Studying the shapes of trees, textures of foliage, the colors of sunsets, the change of light, color and focus with distance. We had a recent question on the guru page about "how to forge branches look realistic" as if there was a trick to it. Not there is not, it is ART and must be studied and then practiced.

Yes, I can draw very well. So can my son. However, we both wasted many hours in school drawing when we were supposed to be doing other things. It showed in our grades. Most of the things I was supposed to learn in school I taught myself outside of school at different times. But in school, I drew pictures of anything and everything that caught my interest. . . YEARS of practicing. . .

Drawing is learned, whether self taught or otherwise. Some people can learn from books and on their own, others need to be shown how or need personal instruction.

In school most of the "art teachers" that did not know how to teach art. I have also known artists that could teach and those that could not. You must be both.

I can teach you to draw, IF you want to. But like learning anything else, you must want to learn. Almost all kids like to draw and want to learn it, so they are easier students. I've taught art to elementary students and almost never had a failure. Adults can learn to draw too, but most have more emotional baggage attached to failure or starting where they quit as a child. Its no different than learning blacksmithing at retirement age as many do, it is just a different subject with less emotional baggage.

Come spend a year with me and pay my living expenses and I can garantee to teach you how to draw VERY well. IF you want to learn and are willing to make that commitment.
- guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 02:03:21 GMT

ART and Grandma Moses (1860 - 1961): My Great Aunt Ilda that I mentioned painting birds (that I copied as a child) was an American primitive artist born 19 years after Grandma Moses and they both died in 1961. The amazing thing is that several of Aunt Ilda's paintings of landscapes with people are indistinguishable in style from those of Grandma Moses painted some 20 years later. I have studied both and was sure there had to be a connection due to the similarities of style. . . But they never met and I am sure Moses never saw any of my Aunt Ilda's works. Grandma Moses started painting about 20 years after my Aunt had done her primitive paintings that are in private family collections.

The big difference was that my Aunt produced her best works as a young woman in her 30's and Grandma Moses didn't start painting until her late 70's. But both grew up on back country farms and had similar lives living through the same historcal and technological changes. And both were self taught artists.

One of the crucial differences between myself and others that did not take interest in learning to draw, is that we had art works by members of our family in our home. We had my father's works from college (the last oil paintings he did) and some of Ilda's birds, as well as one of my Aunt Hellen's paintings. These were not the works of great artists but were interesting unique works by people I knew. Perhaps this took some of the mystery or mystique out of art.

I do not think it is harder to actually LEARN as you get older but there are more demands on your time that make it difficult to put in the hours of study and practice (that is why we give children 20 years for schooling). There are also more things to UNLEARN and old habits to break.

One of the things you learn or are taught as an artist is how to LOOK at things. To draw something from life you must know HOW to look for lines, shadow, color and perspective. Most people do not really SEE what is right in front of their nose.

Have you ever thought about changing focus and depth of field? Like a camera our eyes have a limited depth of focus or "depth of field". There is only a single plane that is in perfect focus and then several inches that appear almost in focus (the depth is dependent on distance). Our focus changes instantaneously without effort. Artists and photographers learn to consiously study the location of the plane of focus. You have to focus on something at a given depth then LOOK at the things in front and behind without changing focus. It is hard to do and HURTS when you force it. But it is one of the many techniques that artists use either consiously or subconsiously.

An artist must recognize that their eyes automaticaly adjust to changes in concentrated focus. They then decide if the image is going to be all in focus or purposly set a focal plane to bring attention to the object that the viewer is supposed to look at.

Most art works are painted with an infinite depth of field even if the colors change due to atmospheric depth such as in a landscape. That and perspective cues are the things that give away a painting or drawing done from a photograph rather than from life OR the artists imagination. Most artists can see this at a glance but non artists don't realize the artist copied a photo. Even when the artist tries to hide the use of a photograph the tell tale signs are there. Recognizing these differences are part of having the trained (ie educated) eye of the artist.

Art books and instructors discuss one and two point perspective and ocassionaly three point perspective. But in reality there are an infinite number of vanishing points in any field of view. The "natural" artist recognizes this without thinking about it but the fact of it can be taught IF the instructor recognizes it. . .

Yes, drawing and painting CAN be taught to almost anyone. But the good art (or photography) instructor also teaches the student how to look at at the world. Seeing with an artist's eye is something that can be learned and is a prerequisite to good drawing.

That is why low cost or fabricated ironwork sells. The average customer sees nothing except the silhouette of our work and we enhance that by painting it black. The average customer does not see the method of joinery or the subtle textures. They do not have the trained eye of the artist (or smith). They see the silhouette of black ironwork on a bright background and do not look closer.

If you are going to sell fine ironwork you must teach your customer to see beyond the silhouette. You must become an art instructor. . .

How's that for a twist?
- guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 16:47:05 GMT

If you happen to be in the Perry, OK area Saturday, May 4, stop in at the Cherokee Strip Museum. Join some of us Saltfork Craftsmen folks for smithing under the shade trees. The museum is on the west end of town on Fir Ave. out near I-35. Bring your portable equipment or just join in with what we'll have on hand. Tail gate and made items to sell are OK. E-mail reply: drop the "OK" above. Jim C.
  Jim Carothers - Sunday, 04/28/02 03:13:43 GMT

art and sketching: I am one of those very unlucky souls that has a mild form af dislexia (i know I didn't spell that right) I vee images fine but there is a shot somewere betwine my mind and my hand (results are vary bad hand writeing,spelling,etc) I have worked for years for my handwriteing to be legable or at lest readable. a side affect of this is that I have a lot of trouble drawing things from memory, if it is from my own mind (something I thought up) I can do it fine, technical darwings are easy, those I just translate the lines of the drawing to # from my memmory and place the lines on the page. now put a knife on the table in front of me and forget it what results might resemble a knife... but tell me what you want and I can draw in in front of you ..refine it add shaiding ... you ge tthe idea. I can draw but I only passed one art class in my life. (sculpting) don't know if this even has any relavince but ...I felt like saying it...(grin)
MP - Sunday, 04/28/02 04:42:22 GMT

Drawing is fun IF you take the time. Most often, I don't, and just wing it. Very important to me is light and surface to draw on. Incorrect height of table will break your back (just as anvil height will). The further down the road I go, the more (it seems) that drawing loses in the battle of time. Design is fun stuff. Most times the
  Steve O'Grady - Sunday, 04/28/02 12:49:40 GMT

Guru; before I'd choose the Blacksmith-Surgeon I'd want to make sure he didn't covet my's not nice to put temptation in peoples' paths! Already my smithing friends are encouraging me to eat greasy food and not exercise...

  Thomas Powers - Monday, 04/29/02 19:37:43 GMT

Counter    Copyright © 2002 Jock Dempsey, Cummulative_Arc GSC